I was delighted to find this late 1930s tennis dress recently as good sports dresses are getting harder and harder to come by. Even better, this one has the bloomer shorts and the original tie belt.
Until the mid 1930s, tennis dresses were pretty much the same length as street wear. In 1933 tennis player Alice Marble wore shorts on the court. And while shorts did not become acceptable for competitive play, this did start a trend toward the shortening of the skirt. By the late 1930s, many players were wearing a short skirt with shorts or bloomers beneath.
Made from a smooth rayon, the most obvious feature of my dress is the center-front zipper. Zippers were just becoming popular for use in clothing in the late 30s. Often, the maker made the zipper an important design element in the garment, the way the maker of this dress did. Front and center, for all the world to see, the latest way to zip into one’s clothes.
The zipper in my dress is a Talon: “…a gay, decorative accent… down the entire front of your new dress.” 1937 Talon ad
The cute little sleeve not only allowed for freedom of movement, it was also very stylish.
This shows the interior of the sleeve cap. The band serves to accentuate the puffy sleeve, as sort of a forerunner of the shoulder pads that began to creep into women’s dresses and blouses. Also note the serged, or overlocked, seams. Yes, the serger was around in the 1930s, but it was not commonly used. Sportswear and swimsuit companies liked it though, as it made their seams better for active use.
The bloomers close with a placket and mother of pearl buttons. How about that convenient little pocket!
Tennis Queen, Carlson-Hall Co. Los Angeles